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Demand and Supply

The call to stop boosters is the strongest yet from the United Nations entity.

SNS | New Delhi |

The paradox is bitter, going by the subtext of the latest reports on the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. While the cases worldwide surpassed 200 million on Wednesday, the DirectorGeneral of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, has called for a moratorium on Covid-19 vaccine boosters at least till the end of September.

He has in point of fact suggested that booster shots be minimised, if not kept in abeyance. The call to stop boosters is his primary message and spoken without a word on tackling the frightful escalation the world over. It is this disconnect that must of necessity be first addressed. The decidedly more infectious Delta variant threatens areas with low vaccination rates, and thus exerts enormous pressure on the health system.

At the core of the latest crisis is the widening gap in inoculation rates between the affluent nations and the poor. The surge has been exponential. It took over a year for cases to hit the 100 million mark, while the next 100 million were reported in just over six months, according to a Reuters calibration. Into this quagmire steps in the World Health Organisation with its claim that the moratorium on booster shots would enable at least ten per cent of the population of every country to get vaccinated.

The call to stop boosters is the strongest yet from the United Nations entity. It runs in parallel to the widening gap between the inoculation rates in wealthy countries and the poor ones. This appears to be an essay towards addressing the inequitous allocation of vaccines, as often as not resulting in shortage and the suspension of vaccination.

Not that WHO is impervious to the demand and supply disconnect. “I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant. But we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines, using even more of it,” Dr Tedros said. Inherent is a severe dislocation between allocation, distribution and inoculation, indeed the structural paradigm.

Highincome countries had administered around 50 doses for every 100 people in May. The number, according to WHO projections, has doubled over the past three months. Due to a lack of supply, low-income countries have only been able to administer 1.5 doses for every 100 people. WHO’s appeal has been greeted with indifference generally.

The White House is reportedly prepared to provide booster shots, if needed, clearly suggesting that it is averse to imposing a moratorium. Some other countries, notably Israel and Germany, have begun to consider the need for the booster shot.